Archive for October, 2011

Is your message lost in the presentation?

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

You spend hours — make that days — putting the script together for the important presentation you’re making this afternoon. The conference room is filled with “suits” waiting eagerly to hear your voice. And you begin.

Fumble, bumble, growl and tumble. You wave your arms and walk about like a boy scout on a treasure hunt. Your PowerPoint slides are so filled with detail that you had to compose them in 14-point type. And the screen is about 20 feet from the table, so everyone is squinting to read them, or not looking at all.   You are so nervous your forehead is dappled in sweat and when you wave your arms around, with your jacket off, so you can appear “informal,” the view of your wet underarms is less than attractive.

You getting the picture?  You need some presentation training.  The story in the first two paragraphs of this treatise are grim.  And those first paragraphs contain many of the mistakes made in preparing and presenting a project.  Read it again and look for:

  1. Have you checked out the conference room to determine viewing angles, placement of the PowerPoint projector and screen, sound projection and your place at the table for the presentation?
  2. Unless there’s a significant and meaningful reason for you to wander about, don’t.  It’s very distracting, especially if you have information on a screen that supplements your presentation.
  3. KISS every screen (Keep It Simple Stupid).  Use BIG type – 36 or 48 point is usually recommended.  In order to get that big with type you must have few words on the screen.  Keep your layout simple and duplicated on each slide for consistency of the visuals.  Make each slide a simple series of bullet points to flow your presentation through each major point you are making.
  4. Dress for success.  Whether or not every person in the room has their jacket off, you keep yours on.  Wear a white, button-down dress shirt, simple design tie and dark jacket.  But wear it.  Dealing with nervousness issues comes with the territory.  There are many excellent relaxation tips you can learn prior to making your presentation.  Everyone reacts differently to the stress of public speaking and everyone experiences stress and learns to deal with it, especially if you do this with some frequency of schedule.
  5. Be sure to allow time for questions and comments.  Encourage interaction during the presentation and not just at the end.  That makes you look much more at ease and part of a discussion as opposed to lecturing.

Presentations should be fun and challenging.  When you go about it with good planning and perceive it from the receiver’s point of view, you’ll be successful, get plenty of pats on the back and want to do it again and again.

by Neil Kuvin

Non Profit Board GPS Exercise

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Is Your Non Profit Organization’s GPS Up-to-Date? I recently turned on my GPS and the message read: “Loading Maps.” Suddenly, another message occurred: “Your maps are over one year old. Update your maps by logging onto www.xxxx.com.” Well, that message made me think of an exercise that you should try at one of your non profit board meetings. Let’s assume that your board KNOWS the ultimate destination of the organization — hopefully, that destination is the embodiment of your Vision, Mission, and Values. OK. The board members know the destination. But do they know how to get there? So you plug in the organization’s destination, see “GO” and you hear the voice: “Please drive the highlighted route.”

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The step-by-step directions for your trip are the goals and objectives of the organization. Think about the route the board decided to take — the shortest or the scenic route, or some other route? Mileage and anticipated time frame has already been calculated, but did it account for your occasional rest stops,

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meals, tours, etc. Also, and very important, are you aware of any detours along the way? So you’re heading along your merry way and the GPS is speaking sweet nothings to you until suddenly you come to a screeching halt. The bridge is out and the GPS didn’t warn you. “Recalculating.” Does this refrain sound familiar? Now what? Does your GPS have alternative routes? If ONLY we had updated the GPS to plan for alternate routes. What are the non profit organization’s “stops along the way” this year, three and five years down the road? Life has numerous detours for all of us, and so do the goals and objectives of your non profit organization. The board must always be vigilant by monitoring and measuring the goals and objectives. The ultimate destination is always going to be the same, but the routes are going to vary and a very astute board is always going to be updating and monitoring those routes. Too many times, “planning” is a tiresome word. However, if you don’t have a destination for the organization, supported by measurable goals and objectives to get there — and updating them — then it’s obvious you don’t need to incur the expense of a GPS program to get you there. I believe the GPS exercise can help illustrate to your non profit board that there is a need for the organization to know where it’s going by following the step-by-step directions on the GPS: Where are we? Where to? View Map. Go. “Please drive the highlighted route to continued success.” by Joseph R. John

I’m busy workin’ here. You want me to plan too?

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Work is a pain. So have a plan!

strategic planningYou finish one day and you’re supposed to look forward to getting up and starting all over again tomorrow. Idle days are few and far between, especially when you work out of your home office as I do much of the time.

Going to “networking” functions takes time and effort and most of them are useless as marketing opportunities.  But I still work them in because it becomes part of the routine of the week.  That’s an important word.  Routine.  I’ll get back to that later in this discourse.

Sooner or later the time comes and the dreaded need to put a strategic business plan together is on you.  Either brought on by your own guilt feelings, or your boss says, “It’s time to put a plan together.”

I’m working as hard as I can.  What’s this stuff about “planning?”  That’s too much time, and working the plan means extra time and extra effort.

That’s the same sad response I used to hear all the time from dozens of department heads when I was running TV stations for a living.  “I don’t have time to put a plan together, no less be accountable for its completion” goes the whine of a put-upon, trampled, beleaguered manager.

But you know what?  When pressed for their daily schedule, almost all of them have a very busy calendar that they likely put together many days, or weeks ago.  So, planning is in their DNA as a manager.  Managing people and events takes time and effort and planning.

If you’re a writer, don’t you outline your story to include the information you need to gather to make it make sense for the reader?  Don’t you consider some kind of list of people to talk to and the time it will take to compile the research you must put into the story?  Isn’t the front-end of gathering details, revising and restructuring the outline, all part of planning?  And how long does it take to put together a detailed plan?  Maybe 30 minutes?  Maybe less.

Sure, overlaying the very basic, fundamental elements of planning a story is not quite the same as putting a marketing or financial plan together.  But the concept is the same.  You set aside necessary time to think, write, re-write, consider a timeline, and put a period at the end of the last sentence on the plan.

Busy people are busy.  They’re supposed to be.  You have stuff to do from the moment you get into your office, through your day of meetings, phone calls, emails, tweets, luncheons, afternoon sessions with a client at their downtown office, end-of-day reports, and checking your calendar to see what tomorrow will bring.  But you’ve got another very essential, valuable responsibility to both your company and yourself.

Organization takes effort.  But it pays big dividends.  And putting a plan together with your management counterparts is the epitome of quality planning time.  You all depend on each other to get the organizational elements functioning smoothly and everyone pulling together like a championship football team on an 80-yard drive.

All of this preaching aside, let’s be realistic.  Your best laid and written plan will run into real roadblocks.  Time is finite.  You’ll run out of it most certainly and your supposedly crucial list of what you will be doing an hour or a day or a week from now will vanish.

Get over it.  Revise the list.  Move stuff to better fit the interfered schedule.  Don’t give up on it.  It’s all in a day’s… what’s it called?… work.

When you make planning more important than picking the restaurant where you’re going to have lunch, it moves to the top of your list of things to do, instead of being an interference in your day’s activities.  When it becomes part of your routine, it isn’t an add-on to your busy day, it’s an important and functional extension of your entire daily effort to be an effective, productive executive.

By Neil Kuvin

Growing the Arts Audience: Volunteers

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

audienceAudience is the lifeblood of arts organizations

No other country in the world embraces volunteerism like the United States. Born in the United States as a necessary component of survival during our great expansion west, it is a value that has been nurtured and passed down from generation to generation.

And in the arts world, if you want to build audience, you need volunteers.

For a non-profit, and particularly a non-profit arts organization, the volunteer is invaluable. Most, if not all, arts organizations rely on volunteers to perform duties that would otherwise be encompassed by paid positions.

It is important to keep in mind that anyone who volunteers for an arts organization does so because of the emotional attachment that person feels for the artists and presentations. No one gives their time and talent freely without feeling some passion about what they are doing. This vested interest needs to be stroked and appreciated. In doing so an arts organization develops a strong, passionate, dollar free work force.

Volunteers are champions of the art organization that often interact directly with the general public within the art venue by performing the functions of an usher, box office attendant or boutique salesperson. In these positions they are presented to the public as a person “in the know”.

The very nature of their function makes volunteers one of the loudest voices in word-of-mouth marketing. The artists, board, staff and donors do not have as many opportunities to directly interact with the organization’s buying public as the volunteer.

A volunteer

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who declares the wonderful attributes of the art and its artists carries loads of influence among the people who attend events. Given that, the volunteer force needs to be well informed, respected and appreciated.

The best place to develop new volunteers is from within the audience. So the volunteers who interact with the audience can serve as a glowing example of what a worthwhile and great experience it is to give one’s time to strengthen the organization.

Make sure that the volunteer’s experience when interacting with staff and artists is always positive. They lead by example and embody the culture of the organization they serve.

By Peg McRoy Glover

Next: Growing an Arts Audience: Subscribers

 

Facebook: Are You Smarter for Using it?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Facebook. 800 million active users!

They love it. They hate it. But they use it.

Does that make they smarter than others? Well…

facebookThis most recent change in format has created a whole new contingent of “hate Facebook” users. In fact, according to their own recent poll, some 56% of regular, long-time Facebook users were very unhappy with the changes.

So, has the amount of time spent on the ubiquitous, pervasive, time-eating addiction changed? Only in a positive way. The average time on the site has continued to increase. And now it comes

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to light that a research team at the University College London has released a frankly weird revelation about those of us who keep building their Facebook friends list.

The London folks released data that says there is a “direct link between the number of friends a person has on Facebook and the size of certain brain regions.” Think

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of that. And I thought limiting the number of my Facebook friends list was a good idea. At the foundation of the research findings is the concept that the areas of the brain studied are actually larger the more Facebook friends a person has.

Consider the use of this information. Now you can make a very positive argument for the length of your friends list, as well as being quite proud of your intelligence quotient. Next time a family member or close friend questions you about the amount of time you spend on the site, you can point to the London study, coupled with the number of friends you have to stay in touch with on a daily basis and… voila… you’re a genius!

In all (almost) seriousness, check out the study for yourselves. Read about it at Reuters.

Let all of your friends know. But of course you will. Pride has its rewards.

by Neil Kuvin

Time Management: Manage Your Computer Filing

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Good Time Management in the Computer Era Requires That You Establish a Clean Filing System time managementKeeping your computer files organized is just like paper files. If you want to find them fast and easily, you need a system. Computer files, whether on a PC or a Mac, reside in folders. And a logical hierarchy of folders will make all the difference in ease and quickness of use. The easiest way to do this is to create project folders. These are the main folders for major projects, tasks, clients, customers, etc. Into each of these you create individual folders for activities for that project. For example: I created a project folder for this book (the source of this article) as I wrote it. I labeled it with the book name. Then I created a folder for business activities with publisher and agent, one for sections in the book, and one for research. Inside each of those I have folders

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or files that fit those categories. In the research folder I made sub-folders for various actions I have recorded or discovered and used for this book. In the sections folder, I organized the ideas into nine different folders representing sections of the book. And so on. You should so something similar for your files to make them easy to find and use. It leads to better time management. What You Can Do: Examine your current filing system – or lack of one. Reorganize your files in a logical way so you can find things quickly and easily. Maintain that system and you’ll save time finding and opening your computer files. You can easily save 5 or 6 minutes a day with a good, logical filing system. That’s 25 minutes a week; more that three hours in a month. Now THAT’s effective time management. By Robert E. Dittmer, APR Author of 151 Quick Ideas to Manage Your Time

Creativity at Trade Shows

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Attending

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trade shows can be expensive. So? Get creative!

trade showsAttending trade shows and providing advertising and PR services is a business of mine. My partners and I used to be at about 30 to 40 shows a year, working with the show management and individual exhibitors on generating visibility and recognition as well as producing video for multiple display units spread throughout the convention facility.

Making sure local media were invited to major show events and allowed access to important speakers and panel members are always a key role of our responsibilities.

If hired by an exhibitor, one of the orchestrated elements of our PR-contracted involvement at each show is walking the floor looking for “Press” badges. They are almost always a different color than attendees, vendors or exhibitors. We will constantly watch the pressroom for media reps happening by to pick up show info or individual press kits as sponsors, exhibitors or vendors might leave them. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that these professionals are seeking information and contacts. They want to know what’s happening and when. While not necessarily “easy pickins,” they are actually hungry for material and usually quite cooperative and friendly.

I often wonder if PR reps in attendance with an exhibiting company realize the incredible opportunity that virtually passes them by. Dozens and dozens of key industry reporters are in attendance at every show and they are there for one reason: get stories and unique information about exhibitor booths that may have special or distinctive products that specialty or even mass audiences will find interesting and valuable. Each exhibit booth contains the CEO and Marketing Director obediently watching the crowds, smiling and nodding as thousands pass by. In among those thousands of passers-by are dozens wearing those colorful, special badges clearly labeled “Press.”

It’s not just the hand-shaking and chit-chat on the floor that makes chances increase that you’ll get attention. It’s knowing where the special events are, especially the ones you didn’t choose to attend. Now they get to have special meaning. Does the word, “work” suddenly come to mind?

Could your missed opportunities be happening while one of your competitors brought in a competent, experienced PR team to leverage the show’s media list, capitalize on local media and orchestrate news coverage? Could be, do you think? While attending trade shows can get expensive, getting good, solid media attention in the right pubs can easily justify costs. This seems pretty logical and even unsophisticated in terms of basic PR/Media relations.

Yet few company honchos think about it, no less leverage the extraordinary PR opportunities in existence at most trade shows.

Trade show PR can be a strategic science if approached with pre-planning and assumptions of opportunity in mind. Yes, it takes a little aggressive outreach and some creativity, but the PR rewards can be exceptional. Put the front-end effort out, look for every media opportunity at your outstretched hand and the payoff in having several stories come your way is like money in the bank.

For every news release and scheduled interview at the upcoming show where you have a booth, there are probably ten or more unplanned but waiting opportunities if you just get off your butt and make it happen.

by Neil Kuvin